Shortly before the May federal election – and before Mr Hawke died – Labor announced it would buy “Hawke House”, if it won government. There have since been calls from within Labor for the Coalition to follow suit, as it was Mr Hawke’s wish for the house to serve as a museum celebrating his life and achievements.
A Labor source said the party “absolutely welcomed the decision as a sign of respect for Mr Hawke. It’s the right thing to do”.
The house is currently used as a community facility. It is understood the government will work with Bordertown locals and the National Trust of South Australia to upgrade the building and determine exactly how it will be used.
The house, built in 1884, is currently listed for sale by Ray White Bordertown, with “price upon application”. Apart from its historic value, it is described as “close to shops”.
While John Howard’s former family home was turned into a KFC, other prime ministerial houses have been more fortunate. Former Labor prime minister Ben Chifley’s home in Bathurst has been preserved and is open for guided tours. It is possible to stay in John Curtin’s former family home in Cottosloe, with the house protected by the National Trust of Western Australia.
Mr Hawke died at the age of 89 on May 16. Last week, federal Parliament devoted a whole day of sittings to pay tribute to the former prime minister. He was remembered as “Labor’s greatest prime minister,” who oversaw the floating of the dollar and the launch of Medicare.
The government has also recently announced $5 million for an annual scholarship in Mr Hawke’s name. It will support a student to study overseas for up to three years “in any field deemed in the interests of the nation”.